Syria warns EU over sanctions

The EU has been accused by the Syrian government of fomenting strife and sowing the seeds of chaos and conflict in Syria for threatening a new round of sanctions.

Foreign Minister Walid Mu’allem on Wednesday also reiterated President Bashar al-Assad’s call for national dialogue and spoke of democracy on the horizon in a speech to journalists.

The foreign minister added that he was confident there would be no foreign military intervention in Syria or a no-fly zone of the sort imposed on Libya under UN Security Council resolution 1973.

The reactions from European Union officials to Assad’s speech — they have a plan and they want to continue with it, to sow strife and chaos in Syria,” Moualem told a news conference in Damascus.

Moualem added: “We will forget that Europe is on the map, and we will turn to the east, to the south and all directions that extend a hand to Syria. The world is not only Europe. Syria will remain steadfast.

We say to those in Europe who are criticising us that they should stop interfering in Syrian affairs and sowing trouble in order to apply plans contrary to Syrian national interests.” Mua’alem accused France of pursuing a “colonialist agenda under the guise of human rights” and said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had colonial “illusions”.

An EU official speaking anonymously to journalists said it is planning new sanctions to be implemented soon targeting four companies linked to the Syrian military and seven individuals.

That would bring the total number of people and entities under an EU asset freeze and travel ban to 34.

Both Russia and China, who hold veto powers at the security council, have thus far blocked attempts by chiefly Britain and France to condemn the alleged violent suppression of the three-month uprising by the Syrian army and security forces.

Human rights groups say perhaps 1,300 people have been killed in the uprising since March, including about 340 soldiers and security forces, but the government says the deaths are the result of violent armed gangs, backed by foreign powers and a powerful media machine, who want to cause sectarian conflict.

The government has not released a civilian death toll, but says more than 500 troops and security forces have been killed.

President Assad meets residents of Marat al-Numan

On Tuesday President Bashar al-Assad met with residents of the northwestern town of Marat al-Numan in Idleb province, which has seen some of the heaviest clashes in the uprising.

The state-run daily Tishreen said the meeting was with residents “who protected the private and public properties from acts of sabotage and looting.”

According to the newspaper, families in Marat al-Numan “protected security members from killing through hosting them in their homes, defending them and transporting them to safe haven.”

‏The army moved into Marat al-Numan after pushing into Jisr al-Shughour, where the government says it came under heavy attack by armed insurgents.

Last week, a report in Al-Watan, an influential daily newspaper close to the government, said soldiers and security agents were hunting for an arms dealer it said had supplied “advanced weapons and explosives” to fighters in Jisr al-Shughour.

At least 10,000 refugees fled to Turkey when operations began in the towns and villages in Idleb according to the Turkish Red Crescent, and many more are thought to be living rough in the countryside.

Although the government has said the refugees are returning after the president called for them to go home, the Red Crescent has said the refugees in the four camps in Turkey are staying put.

Syria Today (Syria)